The new generation of electric cars is on its way with the Lightyear One, a vehicle capable of using solar energy to charge while on the road. Currently in the prototype phase, the solar panel-covered vehicle is due to hit the streets in 2021.

silver electric car driving past a beach

The Lightyear One was developed by a group of designers deeply entrenched in the field of solar vehicles. The prior University of Eindhoven students won the World Solar Challenge race three times with their “Stella” solar cars before focusing on a retail, road-worthy version.

Related: Toyota is testing a new Prius model that runs on solar power

aerial view of solar-powered car

The sleek Italian design is sure to draw attention, especially with the 5 square meters of solar panels mounted to the roof and hood, an addition that draws enough power for 12kmh per hour, or about 7.5 miles per hour of additional charge. It doesn’t sound like much, and in travel terms, it’s not, but it’s a step toward a completely solar car.

gray interior of solar-powered car

In reality, the solar panel boost isn’t going to be the main source of power, so it can be charged like a regular electric car, except a lot faster. The Lightyear One can handle 60kW of fast charging, providing it 507 km or 315 miles of charge per hour. Perhaps the area where the Lightyear One is really making headlines is the total range of around 450 miles without recharging. That well exceeds Tesla’s current record of around 370 miles with the Model S.

gray interior with wood accents of solar-powered car

Like the Tesla, the Lightyear One hopes to appeal to the sports car enthusiast with a lightweight and sleek design. Then, there’s the fact that it jumps from 0 to 60 in around 10 seconds. The high-performance and efficient qualities mean that any charging station can provide a faster charge in less time compared to the competition.

silver electric car driving on curvy road

Unlike Tesla and other electric car manufacturers, the price for the Lightyear One is out of reach for many consumers. The initial models are available for pre-sale now at a cost of around $135,000. If you’re not ready to commit, you can expect a $170,000 price tag when it hits the mainstream retail market.

+ Lightyear One

Via The Verge

Images via Lightyear One